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Rain and snow and more rain: the weather will have a lasting effect on equestrian sport

Tuesday at Stratford on Avon racecourse (Photo from their Twitter feed)Tuesday at Stratford on Avon racecourse (Photo from their Twitter feed)The current spell of dour and drenching rain is having a major impact on horse racing and eventing in Britain.  It is quite hard to keep abreast of the cancelled cards and competitions.


Warwick's important meeting tomorrow (Thursday, April 5) - their St Mary's Lands Cup Raceday - was abandoned after a second inspection on Wednesday afternoon.   The course had "...some standing water and false patches of ground remaining in the back straight and the weather forecast showing continue rain throughout the afternoon the decision has been called following our 2pm inspection."   


After an early inspection on Wednesday morning, they had issued slightly better news - even a 'significant improvement' - with "Going heavy - soft in places on the Chase course."  It was not to be.

With an 80 per cent chance of more rain, Warwick scheduled another inspection for 2pm.  Musselburgh had already scrapped their Thursday meeting.


Catterick's meeting was lost today (April 4).   After an inspection on Wednesday, Wetherby's Friday racing has been abandoned due to flooding in the back straight.  Further ahead, Stratford on Avon's Saturday meeting is off - with parts of their course waterlogged.


And it has been much the same in Ireland:  Fairyhouse lost the last day of its Easter Festival.  Leopardstown cancelled today's meeting (April 4) and Wexford has abandoned their Friday meeting.


The British Horseracing Authority has already arranged for five replacement meetings.  But some meetings cannot be rescheduled.  While Newbury lost its two charity days at the beginning of March, some of the charity fundraising events have been attached to later race days, but the races are lost.


Now young horses looking for end of season bumpers will be held back in their progress to next season's hurdling.  Bumpers are being lost and many will be oversubscribed.


And it is not only horseracing being affected.  With the eventing season barely out of the stable door, competitions have been cancelled and foreshortened with alarming regularity.   All eventing competitions in the south of England over the coming weekend (April 7 & 8) have been abandoned.


With half the Gatcombe competition lost and many cancellations over the Easter Weekend, Marlborough's Jonelle and Tim Price loaded up their box and went for a full day's show jumping - on sand!  As their blog said: "It has been a very frustrating start to the season for many riders, but luckily for team Price they have run at Aldon and half of Gatcombe so are better off than most!" 


On Monday (April 2), eventer Laura Collett announced she was withdrawing her 10-tear-old Mr Bass from Badminton (May 2-6): "I have said all along I will only take him there if I felt he was ready, but with the event cancellations and snow he's not had the prep I had wanted."


And Gemma Tattersall tweeted "The whole of the Eventing world is praying for Belton! Me in particular having had absolutely no runs at all!! I'm just asking for one before {the Badminton trials] - otherwise I'm just going to be rather emotional!!"


Better news did come from the Belton International Horse Trials (April 13-16) in Lincolnshire - the ground on Wednesday was described as 'pretty damn good' with preparations in full swing.


For racing the situation has got so bad - with racing confined to all weather tracks - that on Wednesday the Racing Post's front page was devoted to golf!


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